Digital Personas

 

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Definition on Merriam Webster

I have been thinking quite a bit about the way we interact with technology lately. While underlying technologies get more capabile everyday, the way we interact still feels like its not evolved as much since the early days of computing. Even more so now, with the rise of natural language as an input mechanism, a robotic answer from the device or application often feels …lacking.

Almost everyone I know with an iPhone has asked Siri way too many goofy questions and are delighted when it can answer even a few of them. I have to keep myself from thanking my Amazon Echo everytime it answers a question for me. Could devices in the future not only anwer us academically but also with a hint of personality that doesn’t make interacting with them feel so robotic?

Probably the first piece of anthromorphized software I remember

 

Siri’s personality gives her a distinct character compared to the competition

 

Below are a few interesting examples I have seen in the last few months that I wish would influence more thinking in User Interfaces. By giving the software experience a personality, they feel a lot friendlier and definitely more fun to use.

Jibo

Jibo’s pitch calls it a “the first social robot for your home”. The project first appeared as an indigogo campaign and raised close to $4million. At $750 per device, I am not sure how widespread its adoption will be, but the very pixar-inspired interactions make it a lot more appealing.

 

LG’s AKA phones

LG’s AKA is an interesting take on smart phones. LG’s official site claims its the first smart phone with persona.

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Each phone comes embedded with a personality (1 of 4) that is mostly manifested in the shape and behavior of the eyes on top of the phone display. The included case covers only 3/4ths of the screen leaving the top quarter always available to display the eyes. The eyes behave differently when you shake the phone, turn on the music, have notifications or when the phone is running low on power. It also comes with a plastic figurine that has some Augmented Reality based interaction when used with the phone’s camera.

Carrot Fit

While there are a number of apps out there that read your HealthKit / Google Fit data and render them in a variety of visualizations to communicate your fitness metrics, Carrotfit is amusing because it personofies a pretty nasty fitness coach who throws mean insults at a way to motivate you to do well. Not a technique that I would recommend in real life of course, but its definitely amusing coming from an app.

TEP

Tep is another interesting app very reminiscent of tamagotchis from back in the day. The apps lets you raise a digital pet whose health is based on your exercise levels. The anthromorphication of exercise data is interesting and may let users connect to it more than just a numerical value.

These are a few examples that keep going back to when thinking about Digital Personas.  If you have any others, please share them below.

Links:

Building an Intelligent Bot using the Slack API

 

 

 

 

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